Gillian Bennett's Passionate Last Plea Reignites Right-To-Die Debate

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Gillian Bennett, 85, left a passionate plea for doctor-assisted choices for the terminally ill and the elderly.
Gillian Bennett, 85, left a passionate plea for doctor-assisted choices for the terminally ill and the elderly.

A B.C. grandmother left an eloquent public plea before killing herself and re-igniting the debate about assisted suicide in Canada.

Gillian Bennett, 85, was in the early stages of dementia. She took a pill to end her life peacefully on Monday near her home on Bowen Island, reported The Vancouver Sun.

The retired psychotherapist created a website where she wrote passionately about doctor-assisted choices for the elderly and those diagnosed with terminal illnesses. She left instructions that it be made public after her death.

Bennett wrote:

"I can live or vegetate for perhaps 10 years in hospital at Canada's expense, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 per year. That is only the beginning of the damage. Nurses, who thought they were embarked on a career that had great meaning, find themselves perpetually changing my diapers and reporting on the physical changes of an empty husk. It is ludicrous, wasteful and unfair.... Understand that I am giving up nothing that I want by committing suicide.

Bennett wrote that she talked about the issue with friends and relatives, but was well aware of Canadian law that "makes it a crime for anyone to assist a person committing suicide."

Another B.C. woman, Gloria Taylor, started a court challenge against Canada's assisted suicide laws. It's still winding its way through the system. Taylor, who was terminally ill with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, died in 2012.

Ruth von Fuchs of the Right To Die Society of Canada says pressure is building for legal changes.

"As boomers age, the pressure will mount to the point where it finally accomplishes something because the people in the boomer generation are not accustomed to being told to shut up and sit down," she told News 1130.

gillian bennett

Bennett's husband of 60 years, Jonathan, was at her side as she passed away, said the Vancouver Sun's touching report.

“She wouldn’t let me help her, and I didn’t wish to,” Jonathan told the newspaper. "Gillian and I both disliked and disapproved of the laws making it impossible to help a loved one with something as important as death."

Bennett left behind her husband, two children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

"Today, now, I go cheerfully and so thankfully into that good night," she left as parting words on her website. "I need no more."

gillian bennett

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